Since the beginning of the current crisis, lockdowns, quarantines, and stay-at-home orders have swept across our everyday lives – and at an incredible speed. To keep our societies functional during this time of global pandemic, we have turned increasingly to digital communication tools and networks. Digital technologies protect us from the social exposure to the virus, with tools that facilitate contactless delivery of essential goods, virtual meetings, and cloud services that enable work from home and e-learning delivery. In connecting with business, schools, or government. automated interactions have in many cases replaced even virtual human contact. Digital technologies now know more about us and the virus – from contact tracing that monitors vectors of viral transmission, to big data analytics that track viral spread. Here are some of the key dimensions of these changes, and focal points for this research network:
Technology: Each response has been a viral technological “patch.” Existing tools are used and implemented not only in conventional ways, but also in new and innovative ways. The effect has been an acceleration of key technological trends in areas such as digital payments, tele-health, and online learning, to name a few. We have also seen the legitimization of digital infrastructures to monitor and track populations – from biometrics, to facial recognition, to shared electronic health records.
Knowledge: In the social meaning-making space, “data” has become viral. In debates about the nature of the virus and strategies for social response, we see contestation and doubt around the scientific evidence, differing cultural approaches to community safety, and uncertainties at the interface of culture with national regulatory approaches – all based on differing interpretive frames of knowledge.
Society: We have quickly developed a new shared grammar of “going viral.” This revolves around the geo-spatial nature of the viral flow. On one hand, this addresses the divide between place-based versus online. On the other hand, this raises questions of sociality itself – in-person social distancing versus digital interactions.
In a not yet distant past, going viral was a measure of success in the digital world. This mapped a kind of sociality in digital environments. Now we are in the middle of a different kind of viral technological moment. What might we have “let out of the bag” at these pivot points of Technology, Knowledge, and Society? And looking towards a future supposedly defined by the Fourth Industrial Revolution dominated by technologies of intelligence, what kind world will be left?
The Seventeenth International Conference on Technology, Knowledge, and Society featured plenary sessions by some of the world's leading thinkers and innovators in the field.
Dr Kathryn Coleman, Senior Lecturer, Visual Arts and Design Education, Co-Director UNESCO Observatory of Arts Education, Melbourne Graduate School of Education
Professor Sophia Arkoudis, Professor of Higher Education, Associate Dean (Research), Melbourne CSHE, Melbourne Graduate School of Education
Dr Bella Blaher, Faculty Research Manager, Melbourne Graduate School of Education
Melina Mallos, PhD Candidate, Melbourne Graduate School of Education
Meredith Hinze, Manager, eLearning/eTeaching, eTeaching Unit, Academic Support Office, Faculty of Arts
Dr Charles Sevigny, Senior Lecturer, Director of Digital Learning, School of Biomedical Sciences, Academic Programs and Major Coordinator, Department of Physiology. Faculty of Medicine, Dentistry and Health Sciences
Dr Clare McNally, Lecturer, Oral Health, Melbourne Dental School, Faculty of Medicine, Dentistry and Health Sciences
Dr Karen J. Donald, Senior Lecturer, Doctor of Physiotherapy Course Coordinator, Physiotherapy, School of Health Sciences. Faculty of Medicine, Dentistry and Health Sciences.
For each conference, a small number of Emerging Scholar Awards are given to outstanding graduate students and emerging scholars who have an active research interest in the conference themes. Emerging Scholars perform a critical role in the online conference by commenting and engaging the parallel sessions, and presenting their own research papers. The 2021 Emerging Scholar Award recipients are as follows: